And city officials are only partway toward their goal. On an average day, there are about 1,500 fewer inmates in the Philadelphia prison system than there were just two years ago. Philadelphia still has the highest incarceration rate per capita of the top 10 largest American cities.
Bruce Herdman, chief of medical operations for the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, sometimes describes the county jails this way: “This is the largest psychiatric hospital in the state of Pennsylvania.” Forty percent of Philadelphia inmates are on psychotropic medications; 17 percent have what’s considered a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
Joshua Glenn was 16 and facing some serious charges – and but he was determined to fight them. Sent away to Philadelphia’s notorious 19th-Century-built House of Correction on charges including aggravated assault and attempted murder rap by a DA’s office that wanted to try Glenn as adult, the teenager believed in his innocence, rejecting a plea deal that might have sent him home, on probation.
Back in January, Municipal Court Judge Marsha Neifield was undertaking a radical experiment in criminal-justice reform from the otherwise drab confines of an 11th-floor courtroom in the Criminal Justice Center. There were no major criminal cases on her docket – just addicts, small-time drug dealers, and a man accused of stealing a power drill from inside a car.
City of Philadelphia > ICYMI: Philadelphia Prison Population Down 12 % from Last Year
Yet, as much of a humanitarian crisis as mass incarceration is in the United States of America, an equally debilitating crisis is the one that follows. What happens to incarcerated people when they are released from prison? ### “Reentry” is the accepted term for the process of reentering society after incarceration, and Philadelphia is home to hundreds of thousands of returning citizens.